Sitar John Protopapas – Portraits are often challenging because people living in the mundane world wear so many layers of costume and mythology that enable them to operate in their day-to-day reality.
One must present one face to their employer, another to their spouse, another to their kids and their kids’ school, …you get the idea. But not so much for Sitar John Protopapas, a music professor at York College in York, PA. John is as authentic a person as I have met in a long time, and a lot of that authenticity comes from the fact that he does not compromise much of himself in his daily living. He does what he loves, be it teaching sitar and Indian instruments, teaching Yoga, being a father, or fixing up his home. John is what you see and what you see is a spiritual and kind man. So making this photo required little effort. The challenge was the lighting, and a flared reflector was all that was needed. The venue was the disco room a the Alois Hotel, attached to the historic Bube’s Brewery in Mt. Joy, PA.
And while I was busy photographing ghosts and beautiful young women during this shoot, the serendipity of photographing a beautiful soul came through and made the day.
Techie/Geeky Photo Stuff: I used two Alien Bee’s B800’s to balance this shot, both were reflected through similar light mods. The Paul C. Buff PLM was the primary light and a no-name mod was used for fill. The softness came from some extreme flaring. I hope you enjoy viewing this image as much as I enjoyed making it.
Nikon D800, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ƒ/13.0, 85.0 mm, 1/200, ISO 320, Flash (on, fired), Yongnuo Wireless Triggers to Alien Bees AB800 monolights
I have amazing friends. The one on the right is Ruby Chiex who you will see in a lot of my photos. Brilliant and beautiful, she has been one of my photo muses for a few years running.
This photo shows why it pays to get the big lights and demonstrates the serendipity available in every photo shoot. The modeling light of the my AB800 with PLM modifier (aggressively flared) from above produced such a lovely light that I dropped my Nikon D800 and snapped a quick shot with my Fuji Point-and-shoot.
I mean really, when are they ever going to get a clue that the seemingly innocent child that they are about to devour is actually a bone-breaking ninja prodigy?
This was a tough shot due to the variable light. by metering on the dark area and allowing the bright area to camera right to be somewhat overblown, you can get a serviceable photo, but really, why not just center it on the background and be done with the back-lighting altogether?
Probably because if they noticed me, I’d have been turned into a newt, but more like I was just walking by as these awesome actors were playing this out and captured what I could – there were hundreds of people around and this was the only vantage point. Capture what you can. Fix it later if you must. A fair photo of a good subject is better than no photo at all.
Every year around this time Krampuslauf Philadelphia freaks out the neighbors. And that is very, very good, because freaking out the neighbors is one of my favorite things to do. Here in Philly, Amber Dorko-Stopper, AKA Frau Perchta on Facebook, begs, pleads and cajoles scores of brilliant artists, neighbors and fellow citizens into performing one of the most wonderful and eclectic neighborhood events you’ve never seen. There are costumes, food, camp fires, kids, adults, hot cider, incredible fire dancing, and everything Alpine-mythic for all that care to attend. The costumes are to die for.
For an event like this, you should bring the fastest and widest lens that you have. Available light is the best, but if you bring your own, use something off-camera and well diffused.
Professor Adam Smasher and Model Ruby Chiex show off their guns at the Mid-Winter Scottish Irish Festival. I’m not going to tell you who won, but she didn’t have a beard. I happened to walk up when they were in mid-arm wrestle. Capturing the moment is key when you are working an event and you have to keep your eyes on scan at all times. Tunnel vision is the enemy if you want to capture those special moments.
Techno Geeky stuff: This was an on-camera flash, (Nikon SB600 on a D800, Tamron 70-200 F/2.8 lens), shot with a Gary Fong light diffuser to reduce the potential harshness of the flash. The buildings new-fangled ‘sodium cyanide’ lighting systems (I made that up) threw some odd color. This is the kind of place a gray card would be ideal, given the variable nature of overlapping tungsten, florescent and other exotic lighting.
Playing with available light creates all kinds of opportunities to creep out your viewer. Take for example Sofeya of the band Sofeya and the Puffins. By anyone’s measure, she is quite a beautiful woman, but with the right lighting, inside a giant brewers cask at Bube’s Brewery in Mt. Joy, PA, she can appear downright (wonderfully) creepy.
This photo was shot with a Nikon D800 at high ISO, a Nikon 15-35 F/4G lens, and ambient light. The VR saved the photo, but there’s still enough grain in the shot to fill a sand trap. That’s what you get when you push the limits of your camera and lens.
Any grrrl that has her own snake should be smart enough to know not to date an evil, undead clown. Gertrude is an exception. All you evil, undead clowns out there take heart – you need not spend your life alone eating Cheetos and watching porn movies; There’s a lid for every pot.
A straight-on, hand-held Nikon flash was fired slightly off camera using Nikon’s wireless CLS system to create an even fill. The aperture was stopped down to reduce ambient intrusion, however you may notice a second head growing out of clown boy’s cheek.